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We Know What We Are


But Our Princess Is in Another Castle
Prose Poems by B.J. Best
Paperback, 104 pages
March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9846166-8-8
Also available as an e-book for Kindle and Nook

The color, noise, and often cryptic images of classic video games set the prose poems in B.J. Best’s But Our Princess Is in Another Castle in motion, but the poems soar far beyond their nostalgic springboards. And while Mario, Pac-Man, and pioneer families forsaken on The Oregon Trail populate these pixelated landscapes, this book translates the games and plays them in the real world, so an Asteroid becomes just one more star shot with lost love, Space Invaders might have communist sympathies, and God is just as bad at Tetris as the rest of us. Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, the book’s levels explore how our past virtual lives can inform our present actual ones. A coming-of-age narrative turned love story turned philo­sophical journey, But Our Princess Is in Another Castle deftly combines two mediums into vivid poems as lyrical as they are imaginative.

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“In But Our Princess Is in Another Castle, B.J. Best retools the Bildungsroman for the new century. This mesmerizing book is part poetry, part virtual reality, and part search for grace. Withe images more human than pixelated, and in cunning, perfect language, Best texture maps a beautiful coming of age in our ordinary electric kingdom. It’s a blast to quest through Best’s levels, from the blissful to the haunting and the hilariously surprising where, among Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger sightings, a speaker navigates his life, Noah struggles on the ark, and God loses at Tetris.
—Amy Newman, author of Dear Editor

 “Remember that tingle when you first heard the sword flash in The Legend of Zelda? The giddy ecstasy of those rising tones when you first found a piece of the Triforce? Feel it again within these pages. In his latest collection, B.J. Best honors the traditions of prose poetry and of gaming with nuance and depth while instilling a sense of unmitigated discovery you will recognize from those years when you were open to pleasure in any form. But Our Princess Is in Another Castle is a book that constantly surprises with its clarity, like another leap in process­ing power that yields graphics the likes of which you’ve never seen before.”
—Phong Nguyen, editor of Pleiades and author of Pages from the Text­book of Alternate History

“In But Our Princess Is in Another Castle, B.J. Best pushes into our ribs and digs through our childhoods—the hands we held, the red of our first kiss, the skin we’ve shed and calloused from every game controller—until we can taste the dust we inhaled while blowing on a Super Nintendo cartridge that wouldn’t work properly. With But Our Princess, Best has written an engrossing, personal, and highly addictive collection of poetry. He has reminded us why it’s such a good time to be reading contemporary poetry. This is a book meant to be read on weekdays—a eulogy for those too bright mornings when you would try to get Cloud past the first disc of FFVII before your mom would tear the controller from your hands and drag you off to school. Early in But Our Princess, Best writes, ‘What left, but to build again.’ After finishing the collection, I was left with my own thoughts: What left, but to read it again? Then: Thank God books come with reset buttons.”
Gregory Sherl, author of The Oregon Trail Is the Oregon Trail


B.J. Best is the author of two previous books of poetry: Birds of Wisconsin (New Rivers Press) and State Sonnets (sunnyoutside). He is also the author of three chapbooks from Centennial Press, most recently the prose poem collection Drag: Twenty Short Poems about Smoking. He teaches at Carroll University and lives in the Wisconsin countryside with one wife, one son, three cats, and nine video game systems. He asserts he is the only person in the history of the world to have beaten Super Mario Bros.—with an actual Nintendo and television—on a pontoon boat. Visit B.J.’s website.